Monday, February 16, 2009

Meatless Cooking to Save Money

One of the things that my family does to save money on food is that we eat meatless several times a week.

Saving money isn't the only reason we eat meatless. We also do it to save the planet - the UN has suggested that people eat at least one meatless meal a week to help curb greenhouse gas production.

We also do it to save our health. A vegetarian diet (one in which meat is replaced with high protein/high fiber foods - such as lentils, beans, whole grains and of course, vegetables) can help improve heart health. Of course, if you just replace the meat with lots and lots of eggs and cheese it probably won't help all that much.

We also do it because two of my children have decided to be vegetarian for a variety of reasons. I fix meatless meals sometimes because I'm just too lazy to fix two meals.

Even when we do have meat meals we use meat as an ingredient rather than a dish. By this I mean I do chicken soup instead of roast chicken, beef stirfry instead of steak, etc. I buy very little meat for this family even though we do eat meat several times a week.

Ok, whenever I explain to people my food philosophy and how I spend so little, when I get to the low-meat part people always freak. "My family would never allow this!" "I'd have to make twice that much meat to keep my hubby happy." "My kids would never eat vegetarian!" "My family would mutiny if I tried that!"

Here's my question - who's in charge of food here, anyway? Who's the grown-up?

Ok, with your husband I guess he has some say in the matter, but with your kids? If your kids pitched a fit if you didn't serve Twinkies at every meal, would you give in? What if your family demanded filet mignon three times a week, would your budget allow you to oblige them? What if they would eat nothing but the most expensive cereal for breakfast? Would you continue to buy it or would you eventually say, "Tough, I'm not buying it more than once a week. There is other cereal or you could have toast or scrambled eggs. Deal with it." Of course you would!

Somehow we have convinced ourselves that meat is required, and to deny our family of meat is cruel and unusual punishment. It isn't!! Having a vegetarian meal once and a while is not only frugal, it is healthy and "green," too! Stand up to your family and serve a vegetarian meal once and a while. They will adjust, I promise.

To aid in the transition, may I suggest some meals that are meatless that we don't think of as "vegetarian."

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup
  • Bean and Cheese Burritos
  • Cheese and onion Enchiladas
  • Breakfast (pancakes, waffles, etc with hashbrowns, fruit, etc - but no bacon!)
  • Swiss Cheese Quiche
  • Taco Soup (without the hamburger, of course)
  • Homemade Mac and Cheese
  • Pasta with Marinara Sauce (no meat)
  • Good Ol' Rice and Beans
  • Bean and Vegetable soup
  • Cheese Fondue
  • Cheese Pizza
I have lots of other recipes that I'll be posting later this week - Cheese Soufflé, Broccoli Cottage Cheese Casserole, Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole, and a maybe another one.

So take the plunge - try a vegetarian meal - it's good, really!



Nancy said...

I've told you before that we do meatless at least 1, sometimes 2 x a week. No one ever complains. They don't leave the table hungry. My philosphy is that they can eat what I serve or make a pbj sandwich. Lawman would like to have a steak more often than we do though!

Can't wait for the recipe for your broccoli cottage cheese dish.

Betsy said...

We love grilled cheese and tomato soup (or any soup!). We also do meatless burritos, calzones full of cheese and something like spinach, the AMAZING Baked Lentils with Cheese from M-W-L (I need to post that sometime), and stir fry with tons of veggies--small amount of meat or tofu for flavor.I also have some good meatless manicotti and black bean lasagna and black bean chili recipes that are consistently requested from people who try them. If only my own kids would get off their "don't like marinara sauce" kick.... (sigh)